The Most Beautiful Beaches in France

With the arrival of summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan a beach getaway. The French coastline is sprinkled with fabulous beaches: some in iconic locations like along the Côte d’Azur and others in more unexpected places like Normandy and Brittany. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of the most beautiful beaches in France.

The Most Beautiful Beaches in France

Plage du Plat Gousset

granville beach landen kerr

Known as the “Monaco of the North,” most visits to the Normandy town of Granville start with the beach. The Plage du Plat Gousset is a long beach with crystal clear turquoise waters on a clear day. You might actually mistake it for the South of France! At the end of the beach, climb the staircase that leads to the gardens of the villa Les Rhumbs. The Belle Epoque clifftop villa overlooks the sea and was Christian Dior’s childhood home. It is now a museum that bears his name.

Côte d’Émeraude

emerald coast most beautiful beaches in france

The Côte d’Émeraude (Emerald Coast) falls into two departments of Brittany: Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d’Armor. It takes its name from the emerald color of the sea under certain conditions. Here you’ll find some of the most dramatic and strikingly beautiful coastlines in all of France dotted with charming villages and wonderful small beaches. While there are too many beaches to mention individually, you are guaranteed to discover something delightful.

Archipel des Glénan

glenan archipelago

The Archipel des Glénan is accessible by boat just off the southern coast of Finistère. With gorgeous white sand and transparent water, it might be hard to believe that these magnificent islands are in Brittany rather than the Maldives! The archipelago is classified as a Picturesque Natural Site. Feel free to spend your day swimming, snorkeling, relaxing, and simply taking in the surrounding beauty!

Beach Hotels in Brittany
domaine de rochevilaine

Domaine de Rochevilaine

A visit to this stunning hotel is a deeply moving experience. It will surprise and leave you in wonderment. The location of this hotel is at a rare site: a rocky peninsula over one hectare in size, including a 300 meter private marine façade.

Architectural buildings steeped in history are dotted around the gardens. A monumental thirteenth-century porch opens out onto a group of historic dwellings amidst a sea of flowers. Standing at the water’s edge, with your eyes fixed on the horizon, the time has no hold on you.

37 rooms and suites all offer stunning views. The Spa of the hotel with a dedicated 14 000 ft² devoted to your wellness will truly pamper all your needs. To top it all, the gourmet restaurant will cater to all your taste buds.

Côte de Granite Rose

pink granite coast most beautiful beaches in france

The Côte de Granite Rose in Brittany is famous for its romantically-colored pink rocks. This sculpted shoreline and colorful landscape is a paradise for birds and walkers alike. All along the coast you’ll find small coves filled with white sand and turquoise water sheltered by pines, wild natural landscapes, and the famous GR 34 trail.


biarritz most beautiful beaches in france

Despite its small size, Biarritz has some of the most beautiful beaches in France. For surfers and water sports enthusiasts, it really is a paradise. There are six beaches in Biarritz. A few of our favorites include the Grand Plage, Plage du Vieux, and the Plage de la Côte des Basques. Thanks to its strong waves, the Grand Plage is considered to be one of the best surfing beaches in the world. The Plage du Vieux is a small, sheltered beach on the Old Port of Biarritz. With its calm waters, it is a popular seaside resort for locals and is also perfect for families with children. The Plage de la Côte des Basques is very popular with locals for swimming, with surfers, and celebrities alike.


plage notre dame most beautiful beaches in france

Porquerolles off the coast of Hyères is a true paradise. Azure blue sky and water, picturesque creeks and bays, and fine sandy beaches are surrounded by charming Provençal scrubland. Plage Notre Dame is the most popular beach on the island. It’s the perfect place to soak up the sun, scenery, and breathtaking surrounding nature.

Beach Hotels in Saint-Tropez
jardin tropezina

Château de la Messardière

This nineteenth-century chateau is a majestic much-loved 5-star palace hotel perched on a hilltop on the outskirts of Saint-Tropez, between the village and the famous Pampelonne beach. The property, with its trademark domed cupolas and turrets, has undergone extensive renovation over the last two years and is reopened since the beginning of the summer season of 2021.

Following the renovation of some rooms, the hotel has reduced its room count to 103 rooms and suites, each with their own private terrace. And has created two signatures’ suites boasting over 50sqm of living space and one Duplex Villa with three bedrooms and a private swimming pool ideal for families.

This hotel also offers wellness Valmont Spa, yoga platform, two tennis courts, two restaurants, a bar as well as a beach club.

Plage de Pampelonne

plage de pampelonne

The iconic Pampelonne Beach is perhaps the crown jewel of beaches in Saint-Tropez. Approximately three miles of fine, white sand borders the Mediterranean Sea in Ramatuelle. Pampelonne Beach is also home to some of the most famous beach clubs in France. During the summer, undoubtedly one of the most glamorous places to be in France is at a beach club for lunch on Pampelonne Beach.


villefranche sur mer most beautiful beaches in france

The picturesque harbor and setting of Villefranche-sur-Mer are a highlight of exploring this part of the Côte d’Azur. The town, built on terraces up a steep hill, overlooks Cap Ferrat and the azure blue sea of the Mediterranean below. The port is predominantly now a pleasure port, but a small fishing fleet does still operate. The harbor is a popular and bustling part of the town with many bars and restaurants along the waterfront and in the small square. The main beach is to the east of the town center and a wonderful place to spend the day. The best view across Villefranche-sur-Mer and the harbor is from the corniche road above the far end of the beach, ideally seen in the morning when the sun is on the front of the buildings.


saint florent corsica

During the summer, Saint-Florent springs to life as a bustling, rather upscale holiday destination. Described as a Corsican Saint-Tropez, it attracts visitors with a string of restaurants, a marina full of pleasure boats, and beaches. The nearest beach is Plage de la Roya, a fine sandy beach with a lovely view of Saint-Florent and the Cap Corse. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle, take a boat to discover the more remote beaches: Plage de Saleccia with its fine sand and crystal-clear water, or the Plage Loto.


porto vecchio corsica
Copyright: ©Eva Bocek –

The old fishing town of Porto Vecchio (old port) is located on the southern part of Corsica. Hidden behind a mountain and therefore not visible from the sea, Porto Vecchio has never shown the typical signs of a Genoese settlement. Take a stroll along the old port, and immerse yourself in the Corsican ambiance on one of the many café or restaurant terraces. Nature lovers may want to hike through the nearby woodland of Ospedale. If you want to relax on one of the many spectacular beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

We hope this list of our the most beautiful beaches in France helps inspire future travel. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

When planning a vacation that will be special for the entire family, it’s important to keep in mind specific activities that will be engaging for both young and old. French Side Travel has put together a list of some of our favorite family-friendly tours in France that are sure to make your vacation unforgettable.

Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

Walk in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel with A Private Guide

private walking tour mont saint michel

Take the opportunity to discover the other side of Mont Saint-Michel during a walk along the shore. Step into the water and sand, dance on the quicksand, and admire the landscapes and natural beauty of the Bay. Your private guided walk departs from Mont Saint-Michel, so it is the perfect activity to combine with a visit to the abbey. You’ll walk towards the Rocher de Tombelaine and back to Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also possible to include a seaside treasure hunt to discover the local sea creatures.

Discover the Beauty, History, and Culture of Provence in a Day

provence favorite family-friendly tours in france

You will depart for Lourmarin, ideally on a Friday, which is market day, and have free time to discover one of the most beautiful villages of the Luberon. Don’t miss the Renaissance castle, beautiful vineyards (which you can visit and have a tasting organized), or the quaint galleries and artisanal shops. Stop for lunch in an exceptionally charming village like Lauris, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, Goult or Gordes. Afterwards, you will continue the day by taking the Combe, a winding road, to discover from near or far the perched villages of Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux, Roussillon and Gordes. From the Marquis de Sade to Vasarely, they all have a unique story to tell, and by the end of the day you will know many of them!

Family-Friendly Stays in Provence
Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Located 600 meters from the center of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, this luxurious and refined 5 star hotel offers exceptional villas, a gourmet restaurant, a bistro, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a 500 m² spa. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence is 10 km away.

Rooms, suites and villas have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi connection, as well as flat-screen satellite television. Offering a view of the surroundings and the Alpilles National Park, some rooms also have a terrace. Some suite and villas also have a private pool.

The gourmet restaurant prepares menus with a Provençal theme, created by the using local seasonal products. The bistro is open for lunch in high season. In summer, you can enjoy a poolside bar with smoothies, ice cream and milkshakes. A shuttle service drive you to the center of the village and back. The spa offers individual or duo massage room, perfect for a relaxing time with your loved one!

Scenic Horseback Ride in Camargue Followed by a Picnic on the Beach

favorite family-friendly tours in france camargue

Accompanied by Laurent, an expert gardian nicknamed “Peù Blanc,” you will ride across over 1,235 acres of land. Discover the natural beauty of Camargue with its terrain divided between rice paddies and pastures. The famous white horses will take you for a ride off the beaten path and bring you close to the Camargue bulls. Experienced riders will even be able to accompany the gardians in the sorting of the bulls. No matter your age or level of experience, the Camargue cowboys will be happy to share their work and passion with you! This special ride will end in Piemenson with a picnic on the natural beach.

Private Guided Chocolate Tour in Bordeaux

chocolate tour in bordeaux

Feel the charm of the city like a real resident, while tasting the best products of Bordeaux in a unique atelier that will share all of its fabrication secrets with you. Enjoy delicious samples of incredibly refined chocolates in this completely chocolate food tour. From the origin of coco beans to the tasty finished product, you’ll discover the history of chocolate in the moon harbor of Bordeaux. This tour is a great option for foodies as well as those who would just like to experience a unique experience and walking tour in Bordeaux.

A Day On the Water: Private Boat Tour of Cassis and the Calanques National Park

cassis private boat ride

Cassis and the Calanques are two spots that are absolutely not to be missed in Provence. You’ll depart from Marseille’s picturesque Vieux Port for a day on the water and see this stretch of spectacular coastline on a private boat. Explore the forgotten coves, tiny ports, and soaring cliffs of the Calanques National Park. Snorkelers will enjoy the turquoise waters and marine life. You’ll stop for lunch in Cassis where you can dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant with a breathtaking view of Cape Canaille, France’s highest marine cliff.

Pedal Through Paris during a Private Guided E-Bike Tour of the City of Light

bike tour of paris

See the real Paris during this fabulous guided e-bike tour. You might come across a hidden game of pétanque at the oldest Parisian monument as you discover all the twists and turns of the Marais. Marvel at the Jardins des Plantes and effortlessly climb the slopes of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Get a look at the student life of the Latin Quarter and then the artists’ cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Next, follow the grandeur of the Obelisk in Place de la Concorde and travel in time on your way to Les Champs-Élysées. Amidst all the bustle and excitement of this legendary city, your guide will reveal the relaxing calm of the quiet refuges of Paris. This is a perfect opportunity to take beautiful snapshots and unforgettable memories back home!

Family Friendly Stays in the Loire Valley
les sources de cheverny

Les Sources de Cheverny

Tucked away in its own private estate, this 5-star hotel is the quintessential French château. Exuding 18th-century elegance, this striking hotel balances bygone grandeur with a homely charm.

Soft light from tall, gothic windows creates a restful space. An open fire welcomes guests into the dramatic lobby. While 26 rooms and 23 suites pair sumptuous fabrics with stripped wood panelling to create a sense of contemporary luxury. Beyond the twists and turrets of the building, beautiful lawns and gardens are waiting to be explored. The historic building offers room with classic Chateau feeling, whereas the cottages nearby offer more modern decoration.

As the sun starts to go down, it’s time for a cocktail in the courtyard. Then, you can head into one of the two restaurants and take your pick from mouth-watering menus inspired by the season’s finest local produce.

Days are made for relaxing by the pool, or indulging at the spa Caudalie. Private coaching and yoga classes are available on request.

Private Kid-Friendly Cultural Driving Tour in the Loire Valley

favorite family friendly tours in france loire valley

Your licensed driver-guide will pick up you at your hotel for a unique day experiencing the best of the Loire Valley. Discover a private château and stroll through its splendid gardens. Children will be invited to dress up in medieval costumes and enjoy a treasure hunt or a workshop. For lunch, you’ll enjoy a farm-to-table meal made entirely with products from the castle’s garden in the magnificent setting of the park. To finish the day, you’ll stop in Chinon to trace Joan of Arc’s footsteps.

Full-Day Tour of Provence’s Lavender Fields

provence lavender

Visit the high plateau to experience one of Provence’s emblematic sites: the blooming, fragrant lavender fields. From mid-June to August, the high plateau blooms in breathtaking purple. Enjoy scenic routes away from the crowds. Get ready to take beautiful photos!

The tour includes the Albion plateau, and the villages of Sault and Banon. The wild nature surrounds Sault, perched on a rocky promontory. It dominates a plain dedicated to agriculture where lavender predominates offering in summer a unique palette of colors. Leaning against the Albion plateau, between the mountains of Lure and Ventoux, Banon has an authentic and natural character. Surrounded by fields of lavender, plains, and hills delicately perfumed by aromatic plants, a checkerboard of striking colors is drawn around the village.

Private Scavenger Hunt to Discover the World’s Most Famous Museum from a Different Angle

family friendly louvre scavenger hunt

One of our ultimate favorite family-friendly tours in France is a private scavenger hunt at the Musée du Louvre. While adults take in the highlights of the historic museum with its many treasures, children will get their own specially-designed booklets and a pencil. They’ll look for clues and answer questions as they walk through the different wings of the museum. At the end of the scavenger hunt, the children will be rewarded with a surprise gift.

Private Walking Tour of Old Lyon with a Storyteller

lyon walking tour

Follow the guide-storyteller in the secret covered passageways of Old Lyon. You’ll learn about the incredible adventure of Petit Pierre, and his thirst for science. This adventure allows you to discover the Lyon of the Renaissance, the great Lyonnais figures of the 16th century and the magic of this district.

“Our story begins in the time of King François I. Petit Pierre was an orphan who knew the constellations by heart. One day, he heard the young Louise Labbé talking about Copernicus’ discoveries. He decided that he had to go further, to know more. To do so, he was helped by a mysterious magic book. But first, he had to reckon with the wiles of the evil master Nicolas”.

Guaranteed emotion and thrills! The story is fictional, but based on real historical elements, and includes historical characters. We recommend this visit for children from 6 to 12 years old, as well as for their parents!

We hope this list of our favorite family-friendly tours in France is helpful when choosing a vacation that will be memorable for your children. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

The Best Exhibits to See this Summer in Paris

The permanent collections at Parisian museums are classics that are always worth seeing. Equally exciting are the wide range of temporary exhibits on display at any given time. French Side Travel has rounded up a list of the best exhibits to see this summer in Paris.

The Best Exhibits to See this Summer in Paris

Gallen-Kallela: Myths and Nature at Musée Jacquemart-André

best exhibits to see this summer in paris

Musée Jacquemart-André, a former private mansion turned museum, is one of the best smaller museums in Paris. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful mansion-style living areas as well as temporary exhibits. Through July 25th, “Gallen-Kallela: Myths and Nature” is on display. Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s work focuses on Finland’s natural beauty and landscapes.

Impressionist Decorations: The Source of the Water Lilies at Musée de l’Orangerie

impressionism exhibit paris

Located in the heart of the Tuileries, the Musée de l’Orangerie is one of the most beloved small museums in Paris. Visitors flock to see Claude Monet’s large format Water Lillies. For lovers of impressionism it’s an absolute must-see. The permanent collection includes works from Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso and more. The “Impressionist Decorations” exhibit, on display through July 11th, shows some of the great Impressionist artists’ experiments with decorative objects. Think fans, ceramics, pottery, and drawings, as well as paintings.

Where to Stay in Paris
la clef louvre

La Clef Louvre

Indulge in luxury at this 5-star apartment hotel. Situated next to the Palais Royal, this hotel guarantees a unique stay. The prime location is steps from the Musée du Louvre.

The rooms are in the format of studios and apartments. They also have a fully functioning kitchen to ease your stay in the city of lights. The hotel also have a fitness center so you can stay on top of your fitness regime.

Breakfast buffet in served in the morning, and there is a bar to unwind after a long day.

The hotel is extremely close to a host of local restaurants, where you can experience the beauty of French Cuisine. It is next to the metro station as well, so you can travel all around the city with zero fuss.

Gaudí at Musée d’Orsay

gaudi best exhibits to see this summer in paris

The first major exhibit dedicated to Gaudí in France in over 50 years is currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay. This former train station turned museum is one of the largest in Paris behind the Musée du Louvre. Through July 17th, take an in-depth look at some of the Art Nouveau master’s numerous projects, including the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Visitors can discover Gaudí’s drawings, furniture, creative process and technique, as well as his masterful use of space and color.

Charles Ray at Centre Pompidou

charles ray centre pompidou best exhibits to see this summer in paris

The Centre Pompidou is a hub for modern and contemporary art in Paris. The structure of the museum itself is quite different from any other museum in Paris and offers incredible views of the city thanks to its height. Through June 20th, view the “Charles Ray” exhibit dedicated to one of the United States’ leading contemporary sculptors. Ray participated in the design of the exhibit, which adds an extra layer to the display of his thought-provoking pieces. Also on display through June 6th is another display of Ray’s work at the new Bourse du Commerce Pinault Collection.

Marcel Proust: Du Côté de la Mère at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaïsme

marcel proust exhibit

100 years after Marcel Proust’s death, the “Du Côte de la Mère” show illuminates the development of Proust’s personality, his connection with his mother’s family, his work, and his relationship with Judaism. Through August 28th, visitors can view almost 230 paintings, drawings, engravings, and documents including major works by Rodin, Bonnard, Vuillard, and Monet, one of his favorite painters. Another highlight includes hand-corrected edits of Du Côte de chez Swann.

Women War Photographers at Musée de la Libération de Paris – Musée du Général Leclerc – Musée Jean Moulin

women war photographers exhibit

The Musée de la Libération de Paris – Musée du Général Leclerc – Musée Jean Moulin was inaugurated in 2019 on the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. This new history museum aims to teach the public about a shared history: the Liberation of Paris and two historic figures from World War II, Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque and Jean Moulin. Women War Photographers showcases the work of eight female photographers who documented international conflicts over 75 years, from 1936 to 2011. Through December 31st, visitors can view documents, photographs and original newspapers and magazines that highlight the involvement of women in all conflicts – whether they are fighters, victims, or witnesses.

Where to Stay in Paris
cheval blanc paris

Cheval Blanc Paris

Located at the edge of the Seine and few steps from Pont Neuf bridge, this brand new 5-star hotel in an Art Deco building is a contemporary haven. The inspiration is conveyed in the patterns and the furniture showcasing the French craftsmanship and savoir-faire through the meticulous work of gilders and marble craftsmen, stonemasons, and metalworkers

The 72 rooms and suites are elegantly decorated with bold color and pattern, custom-made furniture and a rich art collection. Some of the rooms have panoramic floor to ceiling windows which provide beautiful views of the Seine, from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame cathedral. The room has an independent dressing room, bathroom with a bathtub and a hammam-shower and separate toilet.

The in-house Spa offers a collection of exclusive rituals specially developed by Dior. The hotel also features a stunning 30-meter swimming pool, an invitation for relaxation.

Pharaoh of the Two Lands at Musée du Louvre

pharaoh of two lands exhibit

Through December 31st, visitors can view the Pharaoh of Two Lands: The African Saga of the Kings of Napata at the Musée du Louvre. The exhibition highlights the prominent role of the vast kingdom of Napata in Nubia, located in what is now northern Sudan, and the dynasty of Kushite pharaohs who ruled over it for more than 50 years. It is linked to the archaeological mission of the Musée du Louvre in Sudan. For 10 years research has been concentrated on the site of Mouweis. Today it continues further north in El-Hassa, not far from pyramids of Meroe.

Cézanne, the Lights of Provence at Atelier des Lumières

atelier des lumieres best exhibits to see this summer in paris

Through January 2nd, visitors can experience an immersive sound and light show into the creative universe and major works of Paul Cézanne at the Atelier des Lumières. This show offers insights into the painter’s tormented state of mind and the atmosphere of his studio in Aix-en-Provence. View Cézanne’s relationship with light and colors as well as the nature and the landscapes that inspired him – forests, parks and gardens, as well as Provençal landmarks such as the village of L’Estaque and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire.

We hope this list of the best exhibits to see this summer in Paris gives plenty of cultural inspiration in the French captial. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part Two

With summer travel planning in full-swing, we’re excited to share part two of our list of five unique summer experiences in France. Read on to discover more about this year’s Tour de France and Tour des Femmes, Fête Nationale, and more.

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part Two

Via Ferrata – Hiking and Rock Climbing with a View of Mont Blanc

via ferrata chamonix unique summer expriences in france

Beginners and experienced climbers, adults and children alike can enjoy the fun of the vertical world of via ferrata. This activity is a cross between hiking and rock climbing. Go along routes equipped with cables, ladders, and rope bridges and across rock faces and crags. This particular via ferrata route looks directly at the stunning Mont Blanc. The Chamonix Valley is a wonderful place to experience this unique activity, and the Evettes via ferrata guarantees enormous fun and adventure. You’ll safely push your limits on a varied route with a professional guide.

Celebrate La Fête Nationale – Bastille Day

fête nationale fireworks paris
Photo Courtesy of Groupe F

The French Fête Nationale marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, a turning point in the French revolution. It also marks the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrates the unity of the French people on July 14th, 1790. Since 1880, July 14th has officially been the Fête Nationale. It symbolizes the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the French Republic. Celebrations are held throughout France. In major cities like Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, you’ll find military parades, games, shows and entertainment for the whole family. There are spectacular fireworks shows as well, especially in Paris at the Eiffel Tower.

Where to Stay in Paris
hotel la reserve paris

Hôtel La Réserve

This palace hotel is housed in a mansion dating from 1854, once owned by couturier Pierre Cardin.

Behind its ruby-red doors, it offers guests a world of Haussmann charm and rooms with stunning views of Paris’s finest landmarks. The elegant and stylish decoration was designed by Jacques Garcia.

Practical and aesthetically pleasing, the 26 suites and 14 rooms seamlessly combine tradition with modern technology. It is also worth noting that La Réserve Paris is the first palace hotel to offer a personal butler service for every room. There is special attention to make guests feel as though they are staying in a private home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the world’s most beautiful avenue, this discrete and spacious establishment also has a private library and a smoking room.

Chef Jérôme Banctel oversees the kitchens at both Le Gabriel restaurant and La Pagode de Cos brasserie. The restaurant serves contemporary French cuisine with Asian influences.

Tour de France and Tour des Femmes

tour de france unique summer experiences in france
REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

The 109th edition of the Tour de France is back again this year from July 1st to July 24th. The race is set to depart in Denmark and also includes stops in Belgium and Switzerland. This year’s race will cover 2,067 miles of cycling and span four mountain ranges. If you happen to be in Paris on July 24th, don’t miss the final stage of the Tour de France. The finish line is on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées. Spectators can cheer on the riders around Place de la Concorde and the Quai des Tuileries. The end of the Tour de France in Paris marks the beginning of the Tour des Femmes, the first women’s cycle stage race around France. The Tour des Femmes takes place from July 24th to July 31st.

Kayaking or Canoeing in the Dordogne

kayaking in the dordogne unique summer experiences in france

Begin your journey in either a kayak or canoe at Saint Vincent de Cosse, just next to Beynac-et-Cazenac, which many consider to be one of the most beautiful villages in France. Nestled between the Dordogne River and an immense rocky promontory, the village is not to be missed. With stone-paved streets, houses in light-colored stones, and a château, you’ll be in for a total immersion in medieval times. A shuttle will take you to your preferred starting point on the Dordogne River. From there, you’ll start discovering the amazing villages and châteaux on both sides of the river. You’ll have your pick between three different tours: a half day tour, a 4-5 hour tour, and a full day tour. A perfectly unique summer experience in France indeed!

Where to Stay in the Dordogne
chateau de la treyne

Château de la Treyne

The exceptionally located 4-star hotel is set on a rocky bluff and mirrored in the Dordogne, beneath a wooded hillside covered with boxwood and truffle oaks.

The hotel’s combination of authenticity and refinement is a perfect expression of contemporary luxury, in a sublime and relaxing setting. It offers guests the opportunity to step back in time with all of the comforts and amenities of modern life.

All Suites and deluxe rooms are equipped to the highest standard. A tempting menu of seasonal dishes, using only the best locally sourced ingredients, is served daily at their Michelin-starred restaurant.

Loire Valley Bike, Wine, and Châteaux Tour

loire valley cycling wine and biking

Join a licensed guide for an incredible private tour and day experiencing the best of the Loire Valley’s biking, wine, and châteaux. Stop at the Château de Villandry, one of the last châteaux built during the Renaissance period. There you’ll discover perhaps the most breathtaking example of Renaissance garden design in all of France. Afterwards, bike along the banks of the Loire River to an old fisherman’s village. You’ll stop for a picnic lunch on the riverside with local delicacies and wine.

Play amateur photographer in Rigny-Ussé where you can admire the exceptional exterior architecture of the Renaissance château. The view of the château from the bridge over the Indre is quite simply stunning. To finish the day, stop in the Vouvray vineyards to visit a cellar and taste the delicious local sparkling wine. A simply wonderful way to have a unique summer experience and experience some of the best of France all in a day!

We hope part two of five unique summer experiences in France helps inspire a trip later this year. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part One

Visiting France in the summer is always a popular choice thanks to mild temperatures and an endless variety of activities, both outdoors and indoors. Every year there are numerous special events not to be missed. Read on to discover part one of French Side Travel’s list of five unique summer experiences in France.

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part One

La Fête de la Musique

la fete de la musique france

Each June 21st in France is La Fête de la Musique, the same day as the summer solstice and longest day of the year. 2022 marks the 40th edition of this free event that takes part all across France – in both major cities and rural communities. La Fête de la Musique celebrates live music of all kinds and is open to both amateurs and professionals alike. People gather in the streets to enjoy concerts and performances that go well into the night. If you are in France on June 21st, celebrating La Fête de la Musique is a must!

Château de Versailles Gardens: Music, Fountains, and Fireworks

versailles musical gardens five unique summer experiences in france

The world-renowned gardens at the Château de Versailles take on another dimension during the warmer months. On almost every day of the week there is something special going on.

During the Musical Fountains Show, visitors can follow several paths to both masterpieces and secret spots in the gardens to see the fountains spouting water in sync with baroque music.

On Musical Gardens days, enjoy your walk through the garden to discover groves that are exceptionally open to the public, along with music.

On Saturday evenings, along with a few select dates, the Night Fountains Show is the main attraction in the gardens. This show of light and sound is accompanied by water features and ends with a dramatic firework show in front of the Grand Canal. If you happen to be visiting on a Saturday, the Royal Serenade might be of interest: a French-style ball in the golden Hall of Mirrors.

You can see the full schedule here.

Where to Stay in Arles
hotel particulier arles

Hôtel Particulier Arles

This intimate 5-star hotel is set in a historic mansion in central Arles. This is the perfect spot from which to discover the charming city and the Camargue National Park.

The hotel’s lush garden and terrace feels particularly Provençal, and is a shady oasis during the summer months. Relax in the heated outdoor pool or in the spa and fitness area.

The spacious rooms and suites evoke a bygone era. They are bright, decorated with white fabrics, and feature modern amenities.

Photography and Theater Festivals in Arles and Avignon

les rencontres d'arles five unique summer experiences in france

In 1970, Les Rencontres d’Arles was founded. It highlights eclectic and contemporary photography in Arles, the international capital of photography. Numerous exhibits take place throughout Arles in emblematic locations, many of which are usually closed to the public. A must-see is the Luma Museum, an architectural wonder designed by Frank Gehry and filled with contemporary art. This year, Les Rencontres d’Arles is from July 4th to September 25th.

Also in July, in neighboring Avignon, is the Festival d’Avignon. The city of Avignon transforms into a theater as a celebration of contemporary performing arts. Performances take place throughout the city in both iconic and unexpected locations. There is a focus on sharing contemporary and living culture, so along with the shows there are also readings, exhibits, films, and discussions. This year’s Festival d’Avignon runs from July 7th to July 26th.

Where to Stay in Avignon
la mirande avignon

Hôtel La Mirande

Built by one of Pope Clement V’s cardinals, this 5-star hotel dates back to 1309. It enjoys a privileged location in Avignon’s city center.

Rooms feature decorations like wall tapestries, oak-wood flooring, and silk-lined curtains. All rooms have a private bathroom featuring marble. Some offer a view of the Palais des Papes.

Enjoy gourmet cuisine at the in-house Michelin-star restaurant. Culinary enthusiasts will also want to book a cooking class in the hotel’s rustic kitchen. Spend a few hours around the vast, wood-burning oven and use local produce to craft a delicious meal. You’ll enjoy an aperitif in the cellar before sitting down for lunch.

See the Vibrant Lavender Fields in Provence

provence lavender fields

The world-famous lavender fields are among the most beautiful landscapes in all of France. Throughout the years, lavender has held a prominent place in the history and culture of Provence. The lavender fields start blooming in June each year and usually by mid-July reach peak bloom. By the middle of August the lavender is usually harvested. Some of the best places to see lavender include Valensole, Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Sault, and Drôme. Visit a distillery to bring some of the scents of Provence home with you in the form of essential oils, soaps, or honey.

Dinner Cruise with Fireworks on the Côte d’Azur

cannes firework show

For a special summer experience on the Côte d’Azur, consider taking a dinner cruise complete with a firework show. Cruises depart from Cannes and feature a cruise around the Îles des Lérins with a stop on Île Sainte Marguerite. Dinner will be served on board as the boat heads back towards the Croisette to watch the dazzling firework spectacle. It is also possible to go on a cruise to watch the fireworks without a meal from Nice.

We hope part one of this list of five unique summer experiences in France helps inspire a trip later this year. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

11 of the Most Charming Towns and Villages in Provence

Provence is one of the most beautiful parts of France with an incredible landscape, wonderful Mediterranean cuisine, delicious wines, and numerous picturesque villages. It is especially nice to visit in the spring and summer to see the vibrant lavender and sunflower fields. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of 11 of the most charming towns and villages in Provence.

11 of the Most Charming Towns and Villages in Provence


aix-en-provence most charming towns and villages in provence

Aix-en-Provence was the capital of Provence in the 15th century and has since been a beloved for its authentic Provençal charm. Discover the stunning preserved and restored private mansions that line Cours Mirabeau and Rue Gaston de Saporta. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are market days in Aix where you’ll find foods, flowers, and items from local artisans.


pont d'avignon

An impressive Medieval wall surrounds the old city of Avignon. Inside, you’ll find picturesque streets filled with galleries and boutiques, excellent restaurants, and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Palais des Papes. The views from the towers are the most sublime place to take in the city, the Rhône River and the famous Pont d’Avignon.

Les Baux-de-Provence

les beaux de provence most charming towns and villages in provence

Clinging to an ancient limestone, Les Baux-de-Provence is a typical Provencal fortified hilltop village situated in the Regional Natural Park of the Alpilles. Built between the 15th-16th centuries, it is listed among the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.” The views of the plains and stunning rocky landscape of the Alpilles are spectacular. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Nearby, don’t miss the Carrières de Lumières, an ancient quarry used for regular exhibitions with artworks projected against the quarry walls. The theme changes every year, but it is a true spectacle of light and sound!

Where to Stay in Provence
la bastide de gordes

La Bastide de Gordes

This 5-star luxury hotel and spa is in lovely Gordes. The perched village is one of Provence’s most beautiful, complete with 12th-century ramparts, a castle, and expansive views over the valley below. The hotel itself was a former mansion and it retains every ounce of its former charm: stonework, molding, exposed wood, and vaulted ceilings all surrounded by century-old olive trees and soaring cypresses.

The fully-quipped refined rooms offer a view on the valley and the mountains.

The chic Sisley spa has an indoor swimming pool, a hammam, and a fitness facility. The establishment boasts multiple onsite dining options and a bar.


châteauneuf-de-pape vineyards

One of the most famous wine appellations in France is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Thirteen varieties of grapes along with various soils come together to create a large palette of complex red wines and elegant white wines. The vineyards are instantly recognizable thanks to the large blonde colored pebbles that cover them. The Medieval village itself is lovely, dominated by the ruins of the Pope’s summer residence.


gordes most charming towns and villages in provence

It is no surprise that Gordes is listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.” This lovely little hilltop village looks like the scene of a postcard or painting. In fact, artists Victor Vasarély and Marc Chagall found inspiration for their paintings here. An ancient village perché (perched village), Gordes has an incredibly dramatic setting that provided protection from invasions during the Middle Ages. Be sure to see the Château de Gordes, a fortified castle that houses the Pol Mara Museum dedicated to the Flemish painter’s masterpieces. The lively Place du Château de Gordes features cafés, restaurants, art galleries, and souvenir shops.


l'isle sur la sorgue

L’Îsle-sur-la-Sorgue has become the capital of antiques in Provence in recent years thanks to its many antique dealers, galleries, and shops, as well as the large flea market every Sunday. This “island city” lies at the foot of the Vaucluse plateau. It’s truly picturesque with canals running through the center of the town. Magnificent former mansions are now art galleries. Antique lovers and art collectors will be gratified by the nearly 300 permanent antique dealers and secondhand shops.


lourmarin provence

Lourmarin, another of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France,” is located in the southern part of the Luberon Regional Natural Park. The village is lovely with narrow winding Provençal streets that meander past centuries old houses. Spend some time exploring the art galleries and shops. Slightly outside the village is the Renaissance-period Château de Lourmarin that is worth a visit.

Where to Stay in Provence


This luxury hotel represents the Mediterranean art of living at its discreet, unpretentious best. In the heart of Provence, within the Alpilles Natural Regional Park, the property is surrounded by the extraordinary natural beauty of Les Baux-de-Provence. It has been welcoming politicians, actors and celebrities for almost a century.

There are 54 guest rooms split between five historical buildings within a 20-hectare plot. Room decorations combine Provençal and modern style. No two rooms are alike.

The main restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, offers a cuisine combining tradition and creativity. A second restaurant provides fine and tasty cuisine in a friendly setting. The property features three outdoor pools, an area for children and a tennis court. There is also a spa with a sensory pool, a hammam, a relaxation room where guests can enjoy herbal teas, a fitness room and six treatment rooms.


menerbes villages provence

The medieval perched village of Menerbes is spread out along a hilltop in the center of the Luberon region. Follow the narrow streets that pass by immaculately restored medieval houses. Menerbes has attracted artists like Nicolas de Stael and Picasso, as well as the writer Peter Mayle who wrote his famous A Year in Provence while living in Menerbes.


oppède most charming towns and villages in provence

Oppède is certainly one of the most authentic and preserved villages of the Luberon. Built on a rocky spur in a rugged setting of forests and rocks, it looks over a magnificent landscape of vineyards, olive trees, oaks. In the distance it’s possible to see some of the surrounding perched villages. One of the most charming towns and villages in Provence indeed!


orange village roman ruins provence

Paris isn’t the only city in France with an Arc de Triomphe. Visit the town of Orange and discover another Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of Roman imperialism and glory. There is also an impressive ancient UNESCO World Heritage listed theater: one of the finest remnants of the Roman Empire. The magnificent stage wall is amazingly well-preserved and unique.



Saint-Remy-de-Provence is the capital of the Alpilles, and one of the oldest towns in France: founded more than 2,500 years ago. Explore the pretty tree-lined central square and the surrounding streets filled with lovely old townhouses. The shopping in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is exceptionally good with small boutiques and art galleries. There is a fabulous weekly market that is among the best in Provence every Wednesday. The town is associated with Van Gogh. While living in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Van Gogh created more than 150 paintings. Another big attraction nearby is the archaeological site at Glanum. The extensive excavated Roman ruins provide a fascinating insight into Roman life 2,000 years ago.

Where to Stay in Provence
chateau des alpilles

Château des Alpilles

This boutique 5-star hotel is in an early 19th-century mansion. Outside, the century-old plane trees provide shade. The refined interior features period touches, including tapestries and stucco flourishes, that meet modern comforts.

Enjoy the two onsite restaurants, bar, heated pool, tennis court, and sauna. The expansive grounds offer an ideal spot for a walk among the Magnolia trees and fountains.

The property offers the separate Cypress Farm building with three modern suites and a loft. It’s perfect for families and groups of up to 12 guests.

We hope this list of the 11 most charming towns and villages in Provence inspires a future vacation. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Must-See Normandy for History Buffs

Thanks to its historical significance, beautiful scenery, delicious cuisine and proximity to Paris, Normandy is always a top region to visit for travelers in France. The list of historically significant places to visit in Normandy is long, which is why we’ve compiled a selection of the must-see places for history buffs.

Must-See Normandy for History Buffs

Rouen: The Capital of Normandy

rouen normandy for history buffs

The capital of Normandy has outstanding medieval heritage. Perfect for history buffs, Rouen is classified as a City of Art and History with over 200 protected historical sites.

Take a private guided visit to truly discover this incredible city. A highlight is seeing the Cathedral. Although badly damaged during bombings in April 1944, it has been restored. It inspired Claude Monet’s series of over 30 Cathedral paintings where he attempted to capture the building in different light and during different seasons.

Lovely half-timbered buildings fill the center of Rouen. Walk through the Place du Vieux-Marché, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. The Gros Horloge (Great Clock) is emblematic of the city and dates back to the 16th century. Rouen also has several notable museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Ceramics, and a Natural History Museum.

Where to Stay in Normandy
la ferme saint simeon honfleur

La Ferme Saint-Siméon

This beautiful 17th-century inn located on the heights of Honfleur boasts a panoramic view of the Seine estuary, whose lights fascinated the masters of impressionism. Following their example, treat yourself to a memorable stay in this unique hotel and catch the ever-changing light of the Seine.

The 34 rooms and suites have been carefully decorated with traditional paneling, oak flooring and noble materials and radiate history and beauty. Each room has a mini-bar, an LCD TV with a DVD player and free Wi-Fi access. The private bathroom includes a hairdryer and slippers.

The spa offers various relaxation and beauty treatments. Guests can relax in the hotel’s floral garden and enjoy a drink or dinner on the terrace. The property offers a gourmet restaurant, a bistro, a bar, lounge and smoking lounge featuring numerous impressionist and contemporary paintings bringing back an atmosphere of a bygone era. It’s an ideal starting point to discover Normandy’s must-sees for history buffs.

D-Day Landing Beaches and Memorials

d-day landing beaches and memorials must-see normandy for history buffs

One of the most-requested tours in Normandy is to the powerful D-Day landing beaches and memorials. Along with your expert guide, you’ll travel back in time to the different emblematic places of Operation Overlord. Explore the D-Day landing beaches and gain insight into World War II history. Learn the names of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Visits begin at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, located on the top of the cliff overlooking the famous Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach is known for being the most devastating but glorious moment of the Normandy invasion, marking the beginning of the end of World War II. You will also get to see the Pointe du Hoc, an ominous piece of land jutting into the English Channel. It provided an elevated vantage point from which large German guns with a range of 15 miles could deliver fire upon both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The neutralization of these guns by the allied forces was the key to victory.

Visit Sainte-Mère-Église, one of the first French villages to be liberated. It is famous for a paratrooper who remained attached to the bell tower of the church. Close to the church stands the Airborne Museum. There, you will learn more about the role the paratroopers played in Operation Overlord. The final stop will be Utah Beach, the westernmost beach in the combat zone, where 23,200 American soldiers landed on D-Day.

Fabulous Mont-Saint-Michel

mont saint michel in normandy

One of France’s most popular and iconic sights is the magnificent island of Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Mont-Saint-Michel is located just on the border of Normandy and Brittany. The stunning medieval abbey at the top of the rocky island is a genuine historical masterpiece. Take your time to soak up the magic of the island and the beauty of its bay, which changes with the rise and fall of the tides.

Climb to the top of the grand staircase to reach the abbey. The abbey, built between the 11th to the 16th centuries, features both Romanesque and Gothic style elements of architecture.

Tides permitting, it is possible to take a half-day guided walk in the bay to discover the beautiful Mont-Saint-Michel from a different perspective.

Historic Bayeux

historic normandy bayeux

Bayeux is a perfect base for exploring must-see Normandy for history buffs. The Bayeux tapestry depicts the conquest of England by the Normans, led by William the Conqueror, in the 1077 Battle of Hastings. An extraordinary feat, the tapestry is about 80 meters long and 50 centimeters high and is a fascinating document that provides a great deal of valuable information about life at that time.

Bayeux itself is an attractive town with a well-preserved medieval center surrounding its renowned cathedral. The cathedral dates in part from 1077, although most of what we see today is in the Gothic style and was built in the 13th to 15th centuries. Around the cathedral, the historic center was luckily untouched during the events of 1944. Take in the rich heritage with timber-framed houses, manors, and townhouses.

Where to Stay in Normandy
chateau d'audrieu normandy

Château d’Audrieu

Gaiety and elegance are the two words which automatically spring to mind to describe this magnificent 5-star hotel. The 18th-century château is historically listed and set among exquisite French gardens and parkland.

Ever since becoming a hotel in 1976, Audrieu has been a symbol of the French art of living. Period fireplaces and furniture give a personal touch to this ancestral home. Stay in one of its suites and rooms, some with original wainscoting, and enjoy a combination of luxury, space, and comfort.

Treat yourself to superb, innovative cuisine in the gastronomic restaurant. The hotel also features a stylish bar serving light dishes as well as salty or sweet croques en bouche, served inside or on the terrace.

Unwind in the hotel’s charming gardens or take a dip in the heated outdoor swimming pool. A charging station for electric cars is available at this property.

Claude Monet’s House and Garden in Giverny

claude monet's house and garden giverny

Claude Monet lived in Giverny, which is not far from Paris but technically in Normandy, for 43 years until his death in 1926. It remains a popular destination in Normandy for history buffs, art lovers, and garden fanatics thanks to the opportunity to visit his house and garden that inspired his most prominent paintings.

The garden is open from April through October and boasts a stunning array of flowers and willow trees. See the very pond where Monet painted the famous Nymphéas (Water Lilies). Monet was a gardener as well as an artist, using his creative eye to arrange and plant the flowers himself. The garden bursts with color and light, which Monet so wonderfully depicted in his paintings. Spring is a wonderful time to visit when daffodils, irises, peonies, nasturtiums, roses and narcissuses are in full bloom.

The interior of the charming pink house remains true to what the rooms looked like during Monet’s time. Visit Monet’s studio, reading room, and vibrant yellow kitchen. The Dining Room showcases Monet’s magnificent collection of Japanese prints, including some notable pieces by artists such as Katsushika Hokusai.

We hope this list of must-see Normandy for history buffs helps inspire a future trip. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

The Best of Burgundy

For wine aficionados, Burgundy in Eastern France is a must-visit region. Thanks to the vineyards’ privileged location and a favorable climate, the area produces some of the world’s great wines. But there’s more to Burgundy than just great wines: think a fascinating history, rich culture, and strong gastronomic traditions. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of the best of Burgundy.

The Best of Burgundy for Food and Wine Lovers

Tour Historic Beaune

best of burgundy beaune

An absolute must-visit in Burgundy is Beaune, a fortified city located in the heart of the region. In fact, thanks to Beaune’s central location it is one of French Side Travel’s top recommendations for places to stay.

Learn about Beaune’s fascinating history with your private guide while wandering through the charming cobbled streets. Pass by places like the Basilique Collégiale Notre Dame and the Hôtel des Ducs. Beaune holds an annual wine auction in the Hospices de Beaune. Recognizable by its roof with geometrically colored tiles, this former 15th century hospital is now the Hôtel-Dieu museum. It exhibits masterpieces such as Rogier van der Weyden’s Last Judgment.

In the purest Burgundian tradition, no visit to Beaune would be complete without a wine tasting. Visit one of the fabulous tasting rooms in the city center. Or, go outside the city walls for a private tour of Château de Beaune, a 15th century fortress. This visit will please even the most demanding connoisseurs with privileged access to private areas of the cellars.

Where to Stay in Burgundy
hostellerie de levernois burgundy

Hostellerie de Levernois

This 18th century house converted into a 5-star hotel in Burgundy offers the authentic charm of a beautiful mansion. The six hectare park surrounding the hotel provides a quiet environment where guests can find peace and tranquility.

The 26 bedrooms and suites are bright and colorful. Each of the rooms has its own identity, combining subtly tradition and modernity.

Bathed in light, with view on the park and the river running through it, the restaurant welcomes all lovers of gourmet cuisine. Particularly attentive to the quality, the Chef favors seasonal products from local producers, sometimes even directly from the garden.

For sport and recreation, don’t miss the 18-hole golf course, tennis court, and bicycles.

Taste Exceptional Wines

wines best of burgundy

The best way to discover Burgundy and its exceptional wines is with an expert oenologist and native of the Burgundy region. Spend a day or two (or more, depending on your preferences) getting to truly know some of the Grands Crus in the area.

The Côte de Beaune undoubtedly has the greatest Chardonnays in the world thanks to the “Golden Triangle,” made up of Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne. Learn about the diversity of terroirs of the Côte de Beaune through their geological complexities and a precise study of the landscape, the work of the winemakers, the undeniable influence of large wineries on the future of the area, and the ever important concept of climate. Along the route des Grands Crus you will discover places such as Beaune, Volnay, Pommard, Meursault and Puligny-Montarchet.

Known as the Champs-Élysées of Burgundy, Côtes de Nuits are the best of the best. For lovers of Pinot Noirs, this is truly a paradise. While it is a small area, there are plenty of terroirs and an incredible variation of parcels and vines that make it renowned around the world. Along the Route des Grands Crus you will discover Morey-Saint-Denis, Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny, Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, and Nuit Saint Georges. Each day includes three private visits where you will taste both white and red wines and young and old vintages – 20 wines in total including 12 Premiers Crus and Grands Crus. Truly an unforgettable experience for a wine aficionado!

Immerse Yourself into the World of Burgundian Cuisine with a Cooking Class

cooking class beaune

Spend a day at a renowned French cooking school for a complete introduction to the delightful gastronomic culture of Burgundy through exploring, cooking, and tasting.

If it’s a market day, you’ll begin the morning at the Beaune market where you’ll have a tour and gather provisions for lunch. If it isn’t a market day, you’ll get to know wonderful addresses of food shops including a favorite fromagerie and an artisanal butcher.

Afterwards, head back to the kitchen for a two-hour hands-on cooking class. Everyone will don an apron, standing behind their cutting board as the chef talks through the day’s menu. Your chef will explain and demonstrate the classic French culinary techniques used in each recipe, from sautéing to searing and sauce-making.

Once the cooking is done, aprons will come off, and you will head up to the airy third-floor dining room for a leisurely lunch. A zinc-topped table will be set for the convivial lunch in simple French fashion, next to a wall of windows overlooking the atrium below. You’ll toast to your hard work in the kitchen with a glass of Champagne followed by a seven-course menu including a local cheese course and a Burgundian wine pairing hand-selected from a wine shop. A perfectly authentic and memorable moment!

Visit UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sites of Roman and Medieval Burgundy

burgundy scenery

Another on the best of Burgundy is the picturesque countryside. Learn about the incredible cultural and historical heritage of the Côte d’Or on a journey through quaint country roads in the rolling Auxois countryside. Semur-en-Auxois is a well-preserved medieval village with charming boutiques, cafés, and terraces.

Drive through Alésia, a famous battleground where Julius Cesar beat Vercingétorix’s Gaul army in 52BC. Next up is Flavigny-sur-Ozerain, recognized as one of “the most beautiful villages in France” and the site where Chocolat was filmed. Be sure to visit the Anis de Flavigny candy factory.

Take a tour of the 12th-century Fontenay Abbey where you can visit the ornamental gardens and follow the trail of the Cistercian monks at this UNESCO World Heritage site. It is the oldest preserved Cistercian abbey in the world. Alternatively, you can stroll through the village of Vézelay and enjoy a spectacular view over the valley. Here you can visit the Basilica of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where to Stay in Burgundy
la borde burgundy

La Borde

Twenty kilometers from Auxerre in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, lies La Borde, a 5-star hotel and estate made up of an authentic 14th-century stately residence and seven hectares of wooded grounds.

The six rooms of the hotel are immaculately furnished. Each has a French name for various flowers, from Aubépine to Tulipe, and sit regally beneath timbered ceilings. Some are equipped with fireplace and all come with Jacuzzi tubs..

Enjoy a very fine local dinner at the restaurant. Much of the menu is made from vegetables grown in the hotel’s vast garden, a place where you could spend all day wandering its grounds.

Guest can truly enjoy the passing of time here: between bucolic walks, the heated outdoor pool, the spa and the fitness center.

Visit a Mustard Mill

fallot mustard
Photo by Philipe Bruchot

When in Burgundy, visiting a mustard mill is a must to discover the famous condiment. The Fallot Mustard Mill is a traditional and family-run mill. It’s the last that prepares recipes passed down from generations and to grind the seeds using stone wheels. This process gives the paste its fully rounded qualities.

Ancient tools and equipment are exhibited in the original Napoleonic building. It shows what a mustard mill would have looked like in the 19th century. A harmonious sound and light display invite visitors to enter the world of mustard. An entertaining and interactive trail takes the visitor through the centuries, explaining traditions linked with mustard and its history. Don’t miss the opportunity to fill up your own jar of mustard at the end of the visit – it’s a perfect souvenir!

We hope this list of the best of Burgundy helps inspire a future trip. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Summer Highlights in the Bordeaux Region

Now that spring break is over, it’s the perfect moment to start solidifying summer travel plans. While Bordeaux is especially known for world-class wine, there’s much more to the region. Its medieval castles, expansive coastline, and food fabulous make Bordeaux one of France’s most seductive regions. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of summer highlights in the Bordeaux region.

Summer Highlights in the Bordeaux Region

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Classified Saint-Émilion

summer highlights in the bordeaux region saint emilion

Whether you’re a wine fanatic or not, the UNESCO World Heritage classified village of Saint-Émilion is worth a visit. Go for a stroll through its medieval streets. A grotto in the heart of town was the former home of an 8th century monk for whom the village was named. Saint-Émilion has a long history as a prosperous trading center. It was also a popular pilgrimage site, as evidenced by the impressive underground monolithic church. Between its cloisters, churches, half-timbered houses, old mills, and châteaux the village is packed with things to see. Step outside of the town center and you’re in the vineyards.

Visit a Château recognized for Grands Crus for lunch. You will be offered a picnic basket filled with fresh products prepared with care and accompanied by a bottle of wine. Enjoy it under the shade of the oak trees, with a breathtaking view of the Saint-Emilion hillsides.

Spend your afternoon wineries. A favorite is Château Beau-Sejour Becot, a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé producer. The château is located on a privileged position on a clay and limestone plateau. The Becot family has run this outstanding vineyard for six generations. Their Grand Cru wines rank among the very best in the world, earning the Premier Grand Cru Classé B label.

Where to Stay Amongst the Vines
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey

Enjoy a 5-star experience in a historic property. Originally a fortified keep dating to the 13th century, today it has been renovated with a refined and modern style.

Rooms and suites boast sensational views on the property’s vineyards. The 37 hectares of vines produce prestigious AOC Sauternes premier grand cru whites.

Don’t miss the restaurant featuring gourmet cuisine by Jérôme Schilling – the former executive chef of Villa René Lalique with two Michelin stars. The restaurant‘s location is spectacularly nestled among the vineyards. It serves seasonal products with an emphasis on local and environmentally-friendly ingredients. The wine cellar contains more than 350,000 bottles of the finest Bordeaux wines classified as Grand Cru Classé.

Marvel at the Beauty of the Périgord Noir

summer highlights of the bordeaux region dordogne

A definite summer highlight in the Bordeaux region is seeing and exploring Périgord Noir. It is impossible to run out of things to see here with its famous castles and villages set in spectacular locations. Sarlat-la-Canéda was the medieval capital of Dordogne and is one of France’s loveliest towns.

Three of the villages here are classified among France’s most beautiful. The setting along the river, ancient village streets, and castle make Beynac-et-Cazenac a real highlight. La Roque-Gageac is a delight with its ancient riverside stone houses. The hilltop village Domme offers fabulous views of Dordogne.

The Château de Montfort is a fairy-tale castle just a few kilometers from Sarlat. With its close attention to historical detail, the Château de Beynac makes for another worthwhile visit. Château de Castelnaud is both a medieval castle and an extensive museum of medieval warfare – a favorite for kids! The nearby 15th-century Château des Milandes is a charming visit too. It is well-known because Josephine Baker made it her home in the 1940s.

Take a Gourmet Walking Tour of Bordeaux

bordeaux gourmet walking tour

When in Bordeaux, perhaps one of the best ways to discover the city is through a gourmet walking tour. You’ll not only see the fabulous highlights of the city, but you’ll also get to taste some of the foods and wines that make the region a renowned gastronomic destination.

Taste delicious foods and wines while walking through the Place de Quinconces, the Chartrons district, the Place Pey Berland, the Place de la Bourse and reflection pool, and the docks. Learn about the origin of coco beans and discover the history of chocolate in the moon harbor of Bordeaux. You can also sample some of Bordeaux’s most-loved pastries, cheeses, and chocolates in a mixed food tour. Wine lovers can meet with a sommelier and learn how to pair cheese with wine. Taste wines that could include a dry white Entre-Deux-Mers, an elegant red Saint-Emilion, a full-bodied red Médoc, and a sweet and fruity Sauternes.

After your walking tour you’ll be an expert of Bordeaux and its delicacies.

Bordeaux Summer Event
bordeaux wine festival 2022

Bordeaux Wine Festival – June 23rd to 26th

This year, the Bordeaux Wine Festival returns and reinvents itself. From June 23rd to 26th, the iconic wine route will be on the quayside, winding its way through the various villages of the appellations. During four days, taste wines from Bordeaux and Nouvelle Aquitaine along with winegrowers and merchants.

There will be an emphasis on local products and organic, environmentally certified viticulture. Beautiful sailboats will also be a part of the festival, since the history of wine is inseparable from Bordeaux’s nautical activity. Themes for this edition of the festival are conviviality, sharing, and respect for the environment.

Get to Know the Arcachon Bassin

summer highlights in bordeaux arcachon

Situated along the Atlantic coast, just about an hour away from the city of Bordeaux, lies the Arcachon Bay. Spend some time getting to know Arcachon and its two parts: the Ville d’Eté (summer town) with its seaside promenade, casino, and shops, and the Ville d’Hiver (winter town), which is much quieter, with sumptuous villas hidden away from the public by pine trees.

Rent bikes and ride through typical fishing villages where the relaxed and quiet atmosphere invites you to slow down your pace. Stopping to taste local oysters with a glass of dry white wine at one of the many log cabins is a must. Set out to climb the highest sand dune in Western Europe, La Dune du Pilat. From the top you’ll enjoy the best panoramic views of the Arcachon Bay.

And of course, be sure to enjoy the ocean. Popular activities on the water include sailing, snorkeling and diving. A French Side Travel favorite is embarking on a private Pinasse boat, a traditional boat from the area. The captain will take you for a ride to discover the villages of the Cap-Ferret Peninsula, Bird Island, and the oyster beds. You can stop for an oyster tasting with a local producer by the water’s edge, or just stop for a swim and a walk.

There’s so much to see, do, and explore on this beautiful and wild coast. It’s an absolute summer highlight in the Bordeaux region.

Where to Stay in the Arcachon Bassin
haaitza hotel pyla sur mer

Haaitza Hotel

This 5-star hotel constructed in a neo-Basque style is situated at a fashionable address in Pyla-sur-Mer. Celebrity French designer Philippe Starck was appointed in 2016 to wave his magic wand over the interiors to create a sharp contemporary décor, perfectly in harmony with the building’s eclectic history and heritage:

There are 38 chic white and pale-wood rooms overlooking the pine-shaded street or pool. Lightwood, white tones with a touch of steel: the rooms with contemporary design abide by Starck’s best codes, for a refined and unpretentious style.

All Suites and rooms are equipped to the highest standard: bathroom with bathtub or walk-in shower, free WIFI, AC, TV with satellite channels, complimentary Nespresso coffee machine, and minibar.

The hotel’s small and chic, gastronomic restaurant with its seasonal market produce creates contemporary French cuisine. An unforgettable experience for the guests while dining beneath a trio of polished rowing skulls in the vaulted, yacht club-style space.

Visit Craft Distilleries in Cognac

summer highlights in the bordeaux region cognac

Cognac is a must for those who enjoy brandy styles wines. Located between the cities of Angoulème and Saintes, the town of Cognac overlooks the Charente River. Mainly built on the river’s left bank, the town is on one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela and is birthplace of the iconic Renaissance King Francis I. Take a walking tour of the historic center. You’ll discover the charm of the old houses as well as the relationship between the city and Francis I.

Enjoy a private visit and tasting at one of the world-renowned houses like Hennessy, Remy Martin or Martell. Contrast your visit with one at a smaller, but just as talented, local producer. The winemaker will explain the history of this unique double-distilled spirit which has to be made in specific areas to be granted the name Cognac.

There will also be the possibility to become a Maître Assembleur during a workshop. You can create your own special Cognac XO and take the bottle with you as a souvenir. What better way to savor the unique taste of Cognac than by making it your own?

Where to Stay in Cognac
hotel chais monnet cognac

Hôtel Chais Monnet

This ancestral cellar built in 1838 was converted into this newly renovated 5-star hotel. It is located at the heart of Cognac, a town rich in history and heritage.

The architecture is mysterious, to say the least, with a series of buildings, luminosity and a unique latticework in the background that hints at the craft of the area. Inside, things only get better with the main lobby and its sand-colored oak floor, beige furniture and a glass-walled elevator in a clear tube, making for hotel that matches the standards of the local tipples. This light design also extends to the rooms and suites, carved out of former warehouses with oak beams and more light furniture

To slow down the time, stress or tiredness, come and enjoy a total relaxing break at the spa which offers personalized body and facial cares according to your specific needs, desires or goals.

When booking with French Side Travel you will enjoy the following amenities: room upgrade upon booking, early check-in and late check out upon availability, and a drink voucher per person for a cocktail or a glass of Champagne at the hotel bar.

We hope this list of summer highlights in the Bordeaux region inspires you. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Six Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences in Paris

With world-renowned museums and monuments, wonderful shopping, stunning architecture, and a diverse culinary scene there is certainly no shortage of things to do and see in Paris. Whether you spend your time sightseeing or strolling, you’ll be sure to soak up plenty of culture along the way. For a truly unforgettable stay, we’re sharing six once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Paris.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences in Paris

Private Visit to the Backstage Areas and Sewing Workshops at Palais Garnier

palais garnier backstage tour

Fans of architecture, history, fashion, and incredible Parisian interiors won’t want to miss this backstage tour of the Palais Garnier. You’ll have the opera house to yourself while it’s closed to the public. See the Grand Escalier, Grand Foyer, Rotonde du Glacier, Rotonde des Abonnés and Bassin de la Pythie like never before.

The once-in-a-lifetime Paris experience truly begins when the backstage portion of the tour starts. Your expert guide will give you in-depth information about the Auditorium, the “lake” filled with fish that runs under the building, the “cabestans” room, and the Foyer de la Danse.

This special visit culminates with an exclusive tour of the sewing workshops. You’ll see creations for the latest productions as well as learn secrets behind the costume-making process.

Exclusive Tours at the Château de Versailles and Gardens

once-in-a-lifetime experience versailles

After visiting the most famous parts of the Château de Versailles, it’s time to embark on an exclusive tour. Enjoy VIP access to parts of the Château that are normally inaccessible, including the Louis XV and Louis XVI apartments.

A highlight is visiting Marie Antoinette’s personal apartments. This series of small rooms beyond the State Apartments were reserved for service by ladies-in-waiting and Marie’s personal use. Marie Antoinette came to these apartments to read, paint, reflect, or receive private visitors. The rooms were decorated with great care and modified several times throughout the 18th century. Marie Antoinette acquired more space by taking over rooms on the floor above. She even had a miniature summer apartment built on the ground floor, opening onto the marble courtyard.

Finish your once-in-a-lifetime Versailles experience with a visit to the King’s Garden. Louis XIV commissioned the French-style garden between 1678 and 1683. It is classified as a historical monument and a remarkable garden. Today, the gardeners perpetuate the art of pruning and cultivate a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

Where to Stay in Versailles
le grand controle versailles

Le Grand Contrôle

Set within the gates of Versailles, this 5-star hotel offers guests an exclusive peek into the world of Versailles. The grandiose building once played host to Europe’s political and cultural elite, from ambassadors and artists to musicians, writers, and scientists of the Enlightenment.

Paying homage to the rich history, every element at the hotel touches upon its former 18th-century splendor, from carefully sourced interiors, right down to the uniforms worn by the welcome team.

With 14 sumptuous Rooms and Suites replete with period furnishings and fittings for a royal stay, guests can step back in time, but with contemporary comforts.

Throughout their stay, guests will enjoy revamped takes on royal classics – from the Alain Ducasse restaurant to the Valmont Spa. As always, the art of French service is taken to sublime levels. Guests are treated like nobility at every opportunity.

Private Workshop and Tasting at Alain Ducasse’s Manufacture du Chocolat

paris chocolate

Foodies will delight at the opportunity to visit celebrated French chef Alain Ducasse’s Manufacture du Chocolat. Take this unique moment to discover the physical, sensorial, and sensual magic of the universe of chocolate.

The Manufacture du Chocolat was created from Ducasse’s desire to get back to the true essence of what makes excellent chocolate: meticulous and creative work of a craftsman, bespoke machinery, and detail-oriented processes. With your private chocolatier guide, you will discover all the secrets and the inner workings of the complex and fascinating steps that go into making chocolate.

Learn how to work with chocolate and of course taste some along the way. At the end of the experience, you will be able to leave with your own chocolate creation.

Private Tour of the Musée du Louvre with Privileged Access

once-in-a-lifetime experience louvre

Visiting the Musée du Louvre can be overwhelming for even the most seasoned of travelers. This exclusive tour will make visiting a breeze with a special entrance through the pyramid, plenty of shortcuts, and direct access to the major masterpieces. A security guard will accompany you throughout the visit to ensure you skip all lines.

A museum department head will introduce your lecturer, who will show you the core of the biggest art collection in the world. Learn more about the Musée du Louvre’s enigmatic masterpieces like Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Learn anecdotes about the Louvre, including Mona Lisa’s burglary and how exhibits are organized.

Then, depending on your interests, your guide will create a specific and personalized tour for you to discover some of the Musée du Louvre’s priceless treasures.

Where to Stay in Paris
once-in-a-lifetime ritz

The Ritz Paris

This stunning 5-star hotel offers a selection of bars and restaurants, a sports hall, as well as a wellness center with a swimming pool, sauna and massage facilities, and a lovely garden. For many, the Ritz is the epitome of a luxurious palace hotel in Paris.

Rooms have beautiful four poster beds, marble fireplaces and chandeliers. Some offer views over Place Vendôme, Rue Cambon or the garden.

The hotel has a 24-hour reception desk and shops, and provides concierge and exchange services. You will find many restaurants, cafés and attractions within walking distance of the hotel.

Privatize a Luxury Boutique in Paris for a VIP Shopping Experience

paris shopping experience

For fashion lovers, Paris is truly a treasure-trove! The French capital is home to some of the world’s most prestigious fashion designers and houses who draw from hundreds of years of expertise and savoir-faire to create truly unforgettable collections.

Whether you are seeking a truly original and elegant piece of couture, or something from an upcoming designer, you will want a piece that will stand the test of time. In this private shopping tour, your stylist will help you find that something extraordinary.

Take a whirl through some of the finest boutiques in Paris. You’ll have the opportunity to privatize the boutique of your choice so that you can enjoy a completely private shopping session. Your stylist can also arrange visits to lounges reserved for VIP clients at boutiques like Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, Céline, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Valentino among others.

Private Photoshoot to Document your Time in Paris

paris photographer

Meet with your photographer, an American who has been living in Paris for nearly a decade. Whether you are looking for family portraits, a surprise engagement shoot, or a wedding photographer, you can be sure your true personality will shine through in every photo. The photographer’s modern yet timeless photography will capture candid memories to last a lifetime. You can relax knowing your photos will be perfect!

All sessions include a private online gallery, the rights to print and download all high resolution digital negatives, editing, and access to your photos within one week of the session.

We hope this list six once-in-a-lifetime experiences in Paris will help inspire future travel to the French capital. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

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